Numerous news reports have come out in recent days which show areas of China are implementing changes when it comes to nucleic acid testing for COVID-19.
You may recall that on November 11, the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council made an announcement regarding changes to certain COVID rules.
Of the 20 key points included in the announcement, number six relates to testing.
It states that ‘mass testing’ – usually involving all individuals within an entire administrative area such as a city, district, etc. – should only be implemented during an outbreak if the source or chain of infection of said outbreak is unclear, or if community transmission continues for a long period of time.
While COVID testing isn’t going away anytime soon, policy changes across China are being carried out in accordance with the State Council’s new policy, and suggest something of a scaling back of testing.
Here’s the picture from across China.
You May Have Read About Shijiazhuang Recently
The Hebei provincial capital has appeared in the news a lot over the last couple of days.
According to China News Week, many places are no longer checking nucleic acid tests. Instead, residents of the city only have to show a green health kit in order to enter certain places.
Riding the bus and the metro no longer requires showing a nucleic acid test. However, to enter metro stations, commuters still have to scan the local health code.
Moreover, hotels in the city still require proof of a negative nucleic acid test, usually from within 48 or 72 hours.
Many of the city’s residents noticed yesterday, November 15 that a lot of Shijiazhuang’s nucleic acid testing sites had been closed down. However, that seems to have changed, according to Jiemian News. Many sites have been reopened “to meet residents’ needs.”
News that Shijiazhuang was scaling back testing apparently led to increased sales of a particular Chinese medicine, reports Beijing Daily.
Lianhua Qingwen capsules – commonly used to treat flu symptoms – have been proven effective against COVID-19 symptoms, reports Yicai Global. Some pharmacies in Shijiazhuang have reportedly sold out of the capsules.
On that note, remember that the capsules are NOT preventative medicine and can only be used to treat symptoms of COVID-19. Seek medical advice before taking the capsules.
Elsewhere in China
Many other areas of the country appear to be moving away from mass testing, reports China News Week.
Sanya announced on November 11 that testing would largely be for key groups only, including those working in certain industries, as well as tourists.
Zhenping county, Shaanxi province cancelled mass testing scheduled for November 12. Meanwhile, Yanji city, Jilin province also announced there would not be mass testing from November 14 onwards.
Hefei city, provincial capital of Anhui province said that it would “in principle” no longer carry out mass testing.
Meanwhile, in Chaoyang district, Beijing, many residents were taken by surprise as many street-side test sites closed, with district authorities saying that test sites would in future be brought “closer to residential areas.”
A notice of "temporary closure" at a nucleic acid testing site in Chaoyang district, Beijing. Image via That's/Alistair Baker-Brian
Many places in Beijing still require a 72-hour nucleic acid test, and in some cases, even a 24-hour nucleic acid test.
Can I Travel Without Getting Tested?
For the most part, getting a test is still a requirement for domestic travel.
However, authorities in Shandong have recently indicated that those entering or leaving the province will no longer be required to show proof of a negative nucleic acid test issued within 48 hours.
To check requirements for domestic travel, open the Chinese-language State Council (国务院客户端) mini-program on WeChat and follow the steps shown below:
Find the State Council mini-program on WeChat
Input place of departure on the left and destination on the right to find out city-specific COVID rules
We stress once again that testing is not going away anytime soon. However, the recent changes to testing policies – in accordance with the demands of the State Council – show that ‘mass testing’ is likely being scaled back.
What we can say with certainty is the latest changes are NOT a sign that ‘dynamic zero-COVID’ will come to an end anytime soon – something that Shijiazhuang Party Secretary Zhang Chao Chao sought to emphasize.
[Cover image via Weibo/@三联生活周刊]